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Samuel R. Delany on being an aging sex radical


In the Boston Review, legendary sci-fi author and sex radical Samuel R. Delany has a memoir essay about his experience attending a sex party for older gay men. Among other things, the experience reminds him that even in an era that is more accepting of gay sexuality, real social and sexual relations always outrun the categories we have to talk about them. Read an excerpt from the piece below, or the full text here.

The clean, clear ending that society keeps looking for is impossible to find. New kinds of social formations are always growing up, even within the most rigid that already seem to contain us. I do not know whether I am ever going to see Maison or Fred again. I hope I do.

What use will I put what I have learned from Bob and his older gay male circuit party that I attended? There are people more radical than I am, more alert to what is going on in the social interstices between cultures or seemingly marginal communities, such as science fiction, which are changing day to day, or just those who know what buttons to push.

I think of myself as somebody who is interested in the differences, the differences between straight society and gay, the differences between male and female, but all of those presuppose a set of similarities on which those differences have to be marked out. Beginnings and endings are the hardest parts for thinkers who utilize such structures. Perhaps that means the best way to end this essay is to say, as of yet, it is not finished.

Image of Samuel R. Delany via Boston Review.